India: Theological Training at KTC

India is a country of enormous cultural and religious diversity but where the gap between rich and poor is gradually growing. Indian theology students must be trained to face these challenges.

Cultural, social and religious diversity enlivens Indian society but also places enormous demands on it. "Our greatest challenges are HIV and AIDS, the confrontation between traditional and modern ways of life and religious intolerance," says Hannibal Cabral, Principal of the Karnataka Theological College (KTC) in Mangalore. Another factor is that Christians in India make up a minority of only 2.4 percent. These are the topics that face Indian theology students at the KTC whose slogan is "Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God."

"In order to share the gospel to others in a multi-religious country, we have to know the people and their traditions. Therefore, both theological and socio-political studies are important and that is what we receive here," says Adrian, a theology student. It is also the reason why the study course at the KTC covers academic knowledge, practical skills and personal development. The College teaching staff intends to train pastors who not only have excellent communication skills in church but also in society.

Experiencing theory in practical life

Another central aspect of training is linking theory and practice. At the agricultural training centre, students learn about agriculture and the everyday life of their future church members. For example, the young Indian students absolve regular practical training in the slums of large cities or with day labourers in rural communities to learn about the life and concerns of their fellow countrymen. When they start their ministry as pastors, they intend to be, and should be, close to the people who stand on the margins of society.

The course of study takes place in the regional language Kannada, allowing theology students to stay in close contact with the people there. However, English is not neglected since it is one of the languages spoken in several regions in India and is also an international business language. Many students come from poor rural communities and are unable to finance their own studies by themselves. The KTC therefore awards grants to help these young people to realise their calling as a pastor.

The ecumenically oriented college was founded by missionaries from Basel who started work in India in 1834. Besides the KTC, EMS supports four other theological seminaries.

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